Saturday, May 12, 2018

Old Man's War | Jon Scalzi


John Perry is 75 years old, a widower with only an okay relationship with his only son, when he decides to join the Colonial Defense Force and fight to protect Earth's colonies from alien races. CDF is only interested in people his age, people with decades of experience in life. By the time he gets to boot camp, his entire world view has changed. Now he fights every day to save his life and the lives of his squad mates.


This book definitely wasn't what I expected. I was told I'd have a lot of laughs, and I did, but I didn't think I'd have so many other powerful emotions. This book didn't just make me laugh, it scared me, it mad me sad, it made me think, it made me wonder. This book was an experience that I was glad to have.

Because our main character is 75 when the book starts, we don't have to put up with a painfully naive, idiotic character. Don't get me wrong, he is naive when it comes to the alien menace he's going to go up against, but he's not naive enough to think of himself as invulnerable, unlike some of the other new soldiers. I did love the fact that all the new soldiers went completely nuts when they got their new bodies, but only one person was dumb enough to think they could fly. That's the kind of common sense that I like in my characters.

As well as Perry's sense of common decency. There were some diplomatic missions where he could've gone against orders and made a scene, but he knew it wouldn't be in everyone's best interests to do so. As much fun as it is to read characters who speak their minds, it's so much better when they have the wisdom to know when to keep their mouths shut. He didn't do so well with his first conscious encounter with the Ghost Brigades, but that was actually story essential.

And Perry isn't the only good character to read, either. Every member of Perry's initial group were so ingratiating that, at the reports of some of their deaths, I was genuinely saddened. It makes sense that not everyone would make it through, this is an interstellar war. But they were written so well and with so much gravitas that each loss was really felt. I was invested in the well-being of almost every character (the former politician, not so much).

Some of the scenes were kinda gruesome, but this is war. Fortunately there were only one or two scenes that went into full, gross detail. Those were usually scenes meant to instill fear in the new cadets or to let the reader know the extent of Perry's injuries. But it's these scenes that make the lighter moments all the lighter, more jovial moments more important and impactful. 

I can definitely see why this book has gotten so many accolades. They are truly well deserved and I will be picking up the next book. 4.5 hoots!



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